Previous efforts to synthesize evidence on how to improve educational outcomes for girls have tended to focus on interventions that are principally targeted to girls, such as girls’ latrines or girls’ scholarships. But if general, non-targeted interventions—those that benefit both girls and boys—significantly improve girls’ education, then focusing only on girl-targeted interventions may miss some of the best investments for improving educational opportunities for girls in absolute terms.
Gender languages assign many—sometimes all—nouns to distinct sex-based categories, masculine and feminine. We construct a new data set, documenting this property for more than four thousand languages which together account for more than 99 percent of the world’s population.
Family Planning and Fertility Behavior: Evidence from Twentieth Century Malaysia - Working Paper 470
There is longstanding debate about the contribution of family planning programs to fertility decline. Studying the staggered introduction of family planning across Malaysia during the 1960s and 1970s, we find modest responses in fertility behavior. Overall, Malaysia’s total fertility rate declined by about one quarter birth under family planning, explaining only about 10 percent of the national fertility decline between 1960 and 1988. Our findings are consistent with growing evidence that global fertility decline is predominantly due to underlying changes in the demand for children.
Family Planning and Women’s Economic Empowerment: Incentive Effects and Direct Effects among Malaysian Women - Working Paper 471
Although family planning programs can improve women’s welfare directly through changes in realized fertility, they may also have important incentive effects by increasing parents’ investments in girls not yet fertile. We study these potential incentive effects, finding that family planning may have raised raise girls’ educational attainment substantially. We also find that these early investments are linked to gains in women’s paid labor at prime working ages and to greater support for women’s elderly parents (a marker for women’s bargaining power within the household). Notably, these incentive effects may be larger than the direct effects of family planning alone.
This analysis examines the relationship between legal reform and social norms surrounding homosexuality. First, about a fifth of the variation in individual preferences can be explained at a country level. Second, using a difference-in-differences strategy, legalizing homosexuality improves how individuals view the tone of their communities. Third, we provide further evidence supporting a legal origins argument by examining former colonies. We conclude that adopting legal reform can improve societal attitudes.
Do Age-of-Marriage Laws Work? Evidence from a Large Sample of Developing Countries - Working Paper 458
Child marriage is associated with bad outcomes for women and girls. We develop a simple model to explain how enforcing minimum age-of-marriage laws creates differences in the share of women getting married at the legal cut-off. By this measure, most countries are not enforcing the laws on their books and enforcement is not getting better over time.
A review of the recent evaluation evidence on financial services and training interventions questions their gender neutrality and suggests that some design features in these interventions can yield more positive economic outcomes for women than for men. These include features in savings and ‘Graduation’ programs that increase women’s economic self-reliance and self-control, and the practice of repeated micro borrowing that increases financial risk-taking and choice. Subjective economic empowerment appears to be an important intermediate outcome for women that should be promoted and more reliably and accurately measured. Lastly, whenever possible, results should be sex-disaggregated and reported for individuals as well as households.
This paper analyzes six waves of responses from the World Values Survey to understand the determinants of beliefs about women’s roles in society and their relationship with the legal system and outcomes.
The Impact of Legislation on the Hazard of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: Regression Discontinuity Evidence from Burkina Faso - Working Paper 432
In 1996, Burkina Faso enacted legislation banning the practice of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C). Much of the qualitative literature surrounding FGM/C discounts the impact of legal change on what is considered a social/cultural issue.